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World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability Paperback – 1 Jul 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099455048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099455042
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 448,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"There is a plethora of books about globalisation, many saying roughly the same thing. This one is different ... This book is a gem ... Her theme is different, rich and compelling ... A pleasure to read" (Guardian)

"Very, very readable; very powerful - this is a very illuminating book" (Clare Short A Good Read)

"The greatest tribute to any book is the conviction upon closing it that the senseless finally makes sense. That's the feeling left by Amy Chua's World on Fire ... provocative, evocative, nuanced and highly readable, starting at page one" (Washington Post)

"Ambitiously conceived, impressively researched and gracefully written, Amanda Foreman has crafted a narrative rich in detail, anecdote, insight and personalities. It puts a human face - many human faces - on a brutal conflict remorselessly descending into an inhuman total war" (Brian Jenkins)

"A tour de force, a work of extreme virtuosity both in the research and the telling" (Bloomberg News)

Book Description

The New York Times bestseller and one of The Economist's Best Books of the Year 2003. Perfect for fans of current affairs books with an emphasis on globalisation, by writers such as Naomi Klein and Eric Schlosser, World on Fire is the most original contribution to the globalisation debate in years.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Ferrar on 8 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A stimulating book full of insights from all over the world. The main argument is that free market democracy can lead to violence against market-dominant minorities. It is a broadside attack at American policy of exporting democracy will-nilly. Not being American, I feel less concerned at this polemical point.

The argument clearly applies in many cases cited, and the insights extended my understanding. How Chua overdoes it sometimes. For example, Croatians are cited as being attacked by Serbs because they were a market-dominant minority. Not convincing. There were longstanding ethnic disputes which had little or nothing to do with economy. Slovenia WAS a market-dominant economy, but it got away into independence virtually unscathed in 1991.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Strangerbird on 30 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
World on Fire scores well as a piece of helpful shock therapy. For anyone assuming American policy toward the developing world is inevitably benign, Amy Chua gives them plenty to think about. She rightly draws attention to the downside of simply trying to export western economic and political systems to the rest of the world. In her summing up she makes the especially valid distinction between attempts to nurture democracy from the bottom up, and the mere mass-installation of ballot boxes at national elections to please western observers. Much of what the author writes appears to be informed and relevant, not least her sections on the societies of Latin America and their complex determination and consciousness of ethnicity. She clearly understands a lot about South-East Asia and its rich minorities, as one might expect of a Filipino of Chinese descent.

The text darts around from place to place and from one issue to another , its central purpose to present a global theory, applicable across the world. It is an over-ambitious project. Some of the generalisations are sweeping. Not the least of these is the author's sub-title `How exporting free-market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability'. Really? Chua's theory is that whilst western business underpins and further promotes the wealth of `market-dominant minorities' such as the Chinese in Malaysia, dark-skinned `whites' in Latin America, Lebanese in West Africa etc., the western encouragement of democracy empowers the majority in those countries and leads to increased hatred and tensions between the two sides.

The author is long on examples, many of which, in fairness, are interesting to the reader. And indeed her knowledge of conditions on the ground in many different parts of the world appears considerable.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ross on 13 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I'll assume that most people reading this are familiar with Any Chua's basic idea of `Market Dominant minorities' and the hostility that they receive. When I first read this a few years ago I thought it was fantastic and explained so much. However rereading it recently I have doubts.

The phenomenon certainly does exist in much of the world, the overseas Chinese (of which her family is part) has achieved enormous economic dominance in much of East Asia and been the victim of mob violence repeatedly as a result over the course of many centuries. The Lebanese in West Africa, Indians in East Africa and Jews in Eastern Europe are also examples of ethnic minorities vastly out performing the indigenous population.

However there are some things that leave me unconvinced, Chua claims that these resentments are likely to be inflamed by democracy and free markets. It is certainly true that free markets exacerbate the differences but World On Fire gives examples of this kind of mob violence going back centuries, to well before the era of democracy. Some of the outbreaks of violence, such as the anti Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998 were concurrent with democracy, but surely this is because the same forces that weakened the grip of the dictator, Suharto, weakened the states control of law and order.

Secondly she tries to fit the Market Dominant Minorities idea to too many conflicts, for example she emphasises that the Croats were much wealthier than the Serbs as a possible cause of the bloody Yugoslav wars. Yet Serbian nationalist propaganda and violence was initially directed to a much greater extent at the impoverished ethnic Albanians.

Thirdly think her concept needs refinement.
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Format: Paperback
With many examples of ethnic conflicts all over the world, Amy Chua shows that the combined pursuit of free markets and democratization in countries with market-dominant minorities aggravates ethnic hatred and can catalyze ethnic conflicts with genocidal violence and the subversion of markets and democracies themselves.
However, her solutions for those problems are wishful thinking and, in fine, a plea pro domo. Also, she didn't delve deep enough into all the aspects of the general hatred of `us'.

Market-dominant minorities
These minorities can also be (very small) oligarchies. Obvious examples are the whites in South Africa and Latin America, the Lebanese in West Africa or the Chinese in Southeast Asia. There are important links with former colonization forces. The colonial divide-and-conquer policies favored certain groups and many market-dominant minorities are the descendants of former colonizers.

Free markets and privatization
Free markets, privatization and free trade don't spread wealth evenly. Instead, they tend to concentrate more wealth in the hands of the wealthy (e.g., in Mexico, privatization profited only to 13 families).

Democratization and backlash
Democratization can lead to ethnic nationalism and ethnic cleansing, targeting the wealth and the power of the market-dominant minorities (Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, Sukarno in Indonesia, the Hutus in Rwanda) through nationalization and confiscation. But, there can be a backlash orchestrated by those minorities (C. Taylor in Sierra Leone, Suharto in Indonesia, F. Marcos in the Philippines) leading to crony-capitalism, a corrupt arrangement between an indigenous autocrat and a market-dominant minority.
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